Building Sexual Self-Efficacy with Elementary Aged Children
When it comes to building sexual self-efficacy with elementary school aged children, it’s important to think about a few things. Remember, in late elementary school, children may begin to experience body changes leading up to puberty. It’s important that these changes don’t come as a surprise. I have talked with many adults who were taken by surprised when their bodies started to change. Children need to learn to expect the development of secondary sex characteristics in both themselves and others. Here are some specific suggestions for children at this age.
- Continue to discuss ownership of one’s own body and right to one’s space. Provide children with the chance to practice making decisions about their bodies. Use the “It’s just a hug” activity.
- To respond to gender stereotypes, introduce adults who have non-stereotypical jobs or roles. Perhaps you know a male kindergarten teacher or female police officer or fire fighter that you can tell them about or introduce to them.
- Talk about body changes in puberty. Discussing body parts, body changes, and growing up brings these conversations into the open. That makes it easier to talk with your children later about physical components of sexuality, like sexual intercourse, contraception, and the potential negative effects of engaging in casual sex such as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.
- Answer questions as they arise. For example, give basic information when asked, then ask, “Is that what you wanted to know, or do you need more information?” This gives your child the chance to ask for the information they need without overwhelming them with too much information that they might not be interested in just yet.